Youngsters aim to follow in star’s footsteps in Lancaster park show

Some of The Dukes Young Company who will be in Treasure Island this summer. Picture by Darren Andrews.
Some of The Dukes Young Company who will be in Treasure Island this summer. Picture by Darren Andrews.
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Members of The Dukes Young Company in this summer’s Treasure Island are following in the footsteps of two soap success stories who appeared in the 1991 version.

In that production of 26 years ago, Cherylee Houston was a member of The Dukes youth theatre and played a pirate while Andy Wear appeared in the principal role of Jim Hawkins.

Cherylee, now a Dukes Honorary Patron, has played Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street for seven years while Andy played vicar Jude Watson in Emmerdale for three years.

Cherylee remembers the ‘brilliant’ time she had venturing out on to the Williamson Park lake in boats.

“I learned a lot about actors discipline, staging and camaraderie during the park shows which has stood me in good stead for an acting career,” she said.

It was the first time that Cherylee met Joe Sumsion who is directing this year’s production and was assistant stage manager for the 1991 version.

Cherylee also appeared in two other Dukes park shows, The Wizard Of Oz in 1992 and the 1993 version of Robin Hood where she played Mutch the Miller’s Son.

“Being a part of the park shows was amazing. I’d love to do it again one day,” she said.

For Andy Wear, brought up in Lancaster, Treasure Island was his third park show as he already had Wind In The Willows and Twelfth Night under his acting belt.

And his connection with the plays in Williamson Park went back to the very first one when he was a steward. Watching Puck set fire to the lake every night sparked his dream to become an actor.

Many young people directly involved with The Dukes park shows over the past three decades have also been inspired by the experience to follow careers in the creative arts.

Appearing as part of The Dukes Young Company gives them a unique opportunity to work with professional actors and the team behind what is the UK’s biggest outdoor walkabout theatre event. So keep an eye on the names of the young people involved in this year’s show as they could well become stars of the future: Katy Bancroft, Isobel Coward, Esmee Fitton, Caoife Turner, Ciara Adams, Mia Ecclestone, Liz Fox, Jonny Vernon, Charlie Crozier, Imogen Khan, Megan Tate, Hannah O’Brien, Emily Massam, Autumn Temple Betts, Jake Steele, Ronan Thorpe Monaghan, Abbi Lawson and Alex McCaragher.

Treasure Island opens on July 4 and runs until August 12 at Williamson Park, Lancaster.

For tickets, ring box office on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org.